Terrelle Jermaine Starr reports for The Root what an ordinary day in an upscale Santa Monica neighborhood is like for actor Ving Rhames:
I am in my home, it was around 2:15 p.m. in the afternoon,” Rhames said. “I have a screen door at my Santa Monica place and and then I have a wooden door. I’m in my house. I’m in a pair of basketball shorts only. I have two English bulldog puppies. I hear a noise in my backyard, but I’m thinking the puppies are just running around, and then I get a knock on the front door.”
When Rhames answered the door, he says he was staring down the barrel of a 9mm handgun.
“I open the door and there is a red dot pointed at my face from a 9MM. They say put up your hands, literally. I just walked and opened up the door … Then they said ‘Open the front screen door.’ They say do it with one hand so then I have to do it with one hand. My hands are up and they have me outside,”
The police were responding to the call of a concerned neighbor with this considerable show of force:
… when Rhames asked why they were at his place in the first place, he was told that a woman called to say that a “large black man was breaking into the house.
(One might suspect that this woman felt Mr. Rhames was breaking in from the moment he purchased the house and moved in.)
Of course, it all seems to be an innocent misunderstanding:
When Rhames and other officers went to the woman’s home—she lives across the street—to ask why she called, she denied ever making the call.
concerned citizen White Supremacist appears not to realize that her 911 call was recorded, and that’s why the police knew who to ask about the false report.
Mr. Rhames voices the obvious concerns about how this might have gone differently, terribly, if some of the players in this episode were different:
One of the officers, described as the captain, recognized him and told the other cops to stand down. Rhames said his son plays against the captain’s kids’ school…
“So here I am in my own home, alone in some basketball shorts, just because someone calls and says a large black man is breaking in, a 9MM is pointed at me. My problem is what if it was my son and he had a video game remote or something and you thought it was a gun?”
We don’t have to ask why this
concerned citizen White Supremacist called 911.
Mr. Rhames was guilty of living quietly in the home he worked to provide for his family.
We do need to ask why the police responded to the call in the way they did (no attempt to contact the Rhames’ household, to notify them of a report of an intruder in their home?).
We also need to ask why this
concerned citizen White Supremacist wasn’t arrested.
As Mr. Rhames alluded to, if the captain hadn’t recognized him, or if it had been Rhames’ son answering the door, this episode could easily have led to: a) a false arrest, b) a brutal assault at the hands of police, c) a dead Black male, shot for leading an ordinary suburban life in America.
Apparently, that’s the true crime here, as far as White Supremacist culture is concerned— a Black male, leading an ordinary suburban life in America:
What’s most appalling about these events is just how routine they are, and it’s a ‘happy ending’ if the Black male doesn’t end up incarcerated, beaten or dead.